What You May Not Know about a DUI in Florida…

April 29th, 2011

 
“It can and does happen to anyone.”
 
DUI charges rank among the Top 5 charges in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. Hillsborough County alone is ranked one of the highest charging DUI counties in the state of Florida. There are a couple of things that you probably don’t know about a DUI that you should…
 

  • - The DUI charge has two components creating two separate cases. Administrative (Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) and Criminal.
    - Enrolling quickly in DUI school could help with your criminal case.
    - You have a strict 10 calendar day deadline from the date of your arrest to file a Formal Review Hearing with the DHSMV.
    - Previous DUI/DWI cases are considered a prior conviction, no matter what state.
    - A DUI usually consists of driving under the influence of alcohol, but could also mean driving impaired by drugs; even prescription drugs.
    - There are many possible penalties for a DUI. For a guideline of Florida’s DUI penalties contact a Criminal Defense Attorney.
  •  
    If you unfortunately do happen to get arrested for a DUI, the most important thing you can do is contact a Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can advise you the rest of the way after your arrest. Knowing what to do and expect during the investigation process is also very important.
     

    How Reliable are Drug-sniffing Canines?

    April 26th, 2011

     
    Drug-sniffing dogs have always been used and trusted in the court of law, but last Thursday the Florida Supreme Court tossed out evidence that a canine detected. After this 5-1 Supreme Court decision, it is going to be a lot harder to get approval to use dog-sniffing evidence in cases.
     
    In the past, dogs were judged by their experience and training but now, they are going to have to display a reliable track record.
     
    According to an article from the St. Petersburg Times,

    “The Oregon Supreme Court also set reliability criteria in a pair of rulings earlier this month, and a Chicago Tribune analysis of Illinois data in January showed the dogs are wrong more often than they are right.”

     

    This relates back to a 2006 case where a man was stopped for a routine traffic violation. The canine ran to the driver’s side door after the man had refused to let the officer search his truck. The officer found many tools and pills used to make methamphetamine. Two months later, the same man was pulled over by the same officer. The canine again went to the same side of the door, but this time nothing was found in the truck.
     
    The question arises can we always trust canines? There is an obvious language barrier and we will never be able to know what the dog is sensing.
     
    Last week, a Florida Supreme Court judge ruled in a separate case that officials must have a warrant before using drug-sniffing canines at residences. It will be interesting to see the result of this publicity and what will happen to drug-sniffing canines reputation.
     

    “No Refusal” DUI Checkpoints- Could Florida see more in the future?

    April 22nd, 2011

     
    Towards the end of last year, we heard the idea that “no refusal” DUI checkpoints could be introduced to Tampa’s fight against drunk driving.
     
    The “no refusal” checkpoints would consist of having a judge on scene, allowing them to issue a warrant for the driver in question requiring that they take a blood test to acquire if the driver was intoxicated.
     
    Currently, a blood test is only to be used when there is serious injury or death involved. Obviously anyone can agree to a consensual blood test but it is very unlikely that anyone would.
     
    According to an article from Floridatoday.com, an appeals court in Daytona on Tuesday questioned whether or not law enforcement could forcefully obtain a blood sample in certain DUI cases. This case dates back to 2009 when Gregory Geiss was pulled over for swerving between lanes. There was no serious injury or death involved but a judge was on scene, a warrant was issued, he had to take a blood test and was charged with a DUI.
     
    The judge in the 2009 case did not allow the blood evidence to be used in the courtroom, but later the state appealed. Two arguments surfaced: Is blood a searchable property? Is the searching of blood an invasion of privacy?
     
    According to the article, Defense Attorney Ernest Chang called the forced tests, “a judicial expansion of powers.”
     
    In 2003, there was a similar case where the defendant was charged with a DUI because of a blood test. In this case, a panel of circuit judges decided in favor of the state 2-1.
     
    It will be interesting to see how the circuit judges in Daytona decide on the Geiss case. With what has happened in past cases, and the decision of this case, we will see if the “no refusal” DUI checkpoints will make way to Tampa anytime soon, or if the current publicity to the Geiss case will put a hold on that.
     

    You’ve Received a letter from the FBI about Mortage Fraud, What should you do?

    April 19th, 2011

     
    If the FBI contacts you and they want to speak with you about your mortgage, the first order of business is to contact a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer . One that is experienced and Board Certified is even better. Speaking with the government about mortgage fraud before contacting a criminal defense lawyer is not in your best interest.
     
    The government could be investigating you due to the real estate boom of the early 2000′s. Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer, Lori D. Palmieri explains that,
     

    “Although most people applied for mortgages completely and truthfully, some individuals were mislead by unscrupulous brokers. Some brokers falsified paperwork in order to expedite the loan approval.”

     
    Many clients admit to not reading all of the documents that they signed at closing. Unfortunately, unscrupulous parties can take advantage of this and add, remove or falsify certain documents.
     
    The most important thing you can do when in a mortgage fraud situation is to contact a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney before speaking to anyone. It is completely acceptable to tell the government that you would like to wait until your attorney is present before making any statements.
     

    Facebook Aids to Fighting Crime

    April 18th, 2011

     
    Facebook is everywhere these days and is not just being used as a personal way to stay connected to friends. Sheriff’s offices around the country have been utilizing Facebook as another way to get information out to the public, and for the public to relay information back to Crime Stoppers.
     
    On Monday morning, the Polk County Sheriff’s office posted on Facebook a video of a man stealing at 75 year old woman’s wallet in a local laundromat. Two hours later an anonymous source contacted Crime Stoppers and reported who the man was and where he worked. Sure enough, it was the right suspect and the man was charged with petty theft. Bay News 9 covered the story and that video can be found on their website.
     
    Although this was a smaller crime, think about the power that Facebook and social networking has. Not only do crimes get solved thanks to fan pages, but since Facebook is so accessible, everyday citizens can act as crime stopping heroes.
     
    Polk County Sheriff’s office updates the page daily and have said that this is not the first crime that Facebook fans have helped them solve. They send all press releases and Crime Stopper bulletins to Facebook where they have over 7,000 fans.
     
    Other Sheriff’s offices also have Facebook pages including Hillsborough County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission stated that they made over 100 arrests through Facebook.
     
    If you are looking for Legal advice, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri also has a presence on Facebook.
     

    Sealing and Expungement- What you need to know.

    April 11th, 2011

    The outcome of a case can end in many ways: paying fines, serving probation, spending time in jail or prison etc.,
     
    Once you have been convicted or adjudicated guilty, your record is no longer clear. But what happens if your charge was never filed?
     
    Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer, Lori D. Palmieri explains in this video that although your charge was never filed, your record is still not clear and those charges will show if a background check is conducted.
     

       

    “That is the reason why, despite having the good fortune of not having those charges filed against you, you still need to go back and go through the formal expungement or sealing process whatever the situation may be.”

     
    The sealing and expungment process allows you to legally deny any arrests covered by the sealed or expunged record. You may only use this process ONCE in a lifetime though, so use it wisely.
     
    The primary requirement for the two processes is that the applicant has never been convicted or adjudicated guilty no matter what state or country. Your record follows you anywhere you go.
     
    There are different requirements for the expungement and sealing processes. Expungement requires that the charge was dismissed by the court/prosecutor while sealing requires that the applicant must serve probation.
     
    However there are crimes that cannot be sealed regardless of the type of sentence. These crimes can include drug trafficking, robberies and aggravated batteries. For a longer list of crimes that cannot be sealed or expunged visit the sealing and expungement tab of the Palmieri site.
     

    What if trying to get out of jury duty landed you indefinite jury duty?

    April 7th, 2011

     
    Jury duty is usually not the way someone wants to spend their day, but most civilians cooperate and fulfill the request. But what some will do to get out of jury duty can be extreme…
     
    According to an article from the NY daily news , an Asian woman was sentenced to indefinite jury duty for her racist comments on her questionnaire. When she was asked to name her top 3 least admired people, she answered African Americans, Hispanics and Haitians- reason being that they are always in the news for doing something.
     
    Later in the questionnaire, the woman stated that her cousin was part of a gang and the article quotes:

    “Why didn’t you put ‘Asians’ down also?’ the judge asked sarcastically, referring to her list of least-liked people. ‘Maybe I should have,’ she said.”

     
    To denounce other races (even her own) seems ridiculous and inappropriate in the courtroom. Was she trying to get out of jury duty by taking the extremist route? Judge Nicholas Garaufis thought so, slamming her with indefinite jury duty until decided otherwise.

    Attorney’s Atonishing Procedure Results in Mistrial

    April 6th, 2011

     
    A D.C Superior Court judge declared a mistrial in a murder case allowing the defendant, Dontrell Deaner, to fire his current criminal defense lawyer because of his lack of knowledge of the proper trial procedure.
     
    Joseph Rakofsky, a recent law graduate from Touro College, was Deaner’s defending lawyer. Rakofsky included in his opening statements that he had never tried a case before. Why someone who admittedly has never tried a case before would take on a murder case was astonishing to not only the judge but the jury and defendant as well.
     
    To top it off, an investigator who had been hired by Rakofsky came forward about a request that Rakofsky had given him to “trick” a witness. According to a Washington Post article, the e-mail read:

    “Thank you for your help. Please trick the old lady to say that she did not see the shooting or provide information to the lawyers about the shooting.”

     
    Rakofsky’s next move was to post the outcome of his trial as his facebook status. He was praised with “likes” and comments.
     
    It seems that neither Rakofsky’s law degree nor common sense played a part in his preparation and delivery for this case. This is a perfect example of why choosing an experienced and legitimate Tampa criminal defense attorney is very important (one that is Board Certified is even better).